Work From Home? Not if You Work at Yahoo

Internet-based companies have often led the way when it comes to unique perks for employees — including flex scheduling and the ability to work from home. Yahoo's new CEO, however, sees it differently. A recent memo to staff asked those who work from home to come into the office starting in June. Needless to say, some who were not thrilled with the decision initially leaked the memo. (In Mayer's defense, recent reports indicate she believes some at the company have taken advantage of the flexible policy, leading to diminished productivity.) All Things D reports:

Courtesy of a plethora of very irked Yahoo employees, here is the internal memo sent to the company about a new rule rolled out today by CEO Marissa Mayer, which requires that Yahoo employees who work remotely relocate to company facilities.

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” reads the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses. “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

Painfully awkward as this is phrased, it means every Yahoo get to your desks stat!

I reported earlier today that the move will apparently impact only several hundred employees, such as customer service reps, who work from home full time. But numerous sources told me that the decree extends to any staffers who might have arrangements to work from home just one or two days a week, too.

The changes begin in June, according to the Yahoo memo.

After that, employees who work from home must comply without exception or quit. One top manager was told that there would be little flexibility on the issue.

The anger from impacted employees was strong today, because many felt they were initially hired with the assumption that they could work more flexibly.

In fact, even waiting for the cable guy is questionable. “And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration,” wrote Reses.

The tone and tactics have infuriated some at the company. Wrote one impacted Yahoo employee to me: “Even if that was what was previously agreed to with managers and HR, or was a part of the package to take a position, tough … It’s outrageous and a morale killer.”

Most tech companies encourage workers to stay on their campuses, offering free food and other perks. But none enforce such rules beyond staff needed to operate an office.

“Our engineers would not put up with that,” said one tech exec. “So, we’d never focus on it.”

In the comments section of my first story on the HR change at Yahoo, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg wrote:

“For anyone who enjoys working from wherever they like in the world, and is interested in WordPress, Automattic is 100% committed to being distributed. 130 of our 150 people are outside of San Francisco.”

The issue is an interesting and controversial one, with some certain that working at home is the wave of the future, while others considering it hurtful to productivity.

Well, we’ll presumably see which this way goes in time.

Encyclopedia Brown & the Case of the Shrinking Cubicle

Well, this is just sort of a bummer, man. Your office space is shrinking:

Feeling a little cramped at work? Do you no longer enjoy the elbow room you used to? Well, you’re not alone. According to the International Facility Management Association, the average American office worker had 90 square feet of work space in 1994, but by 2010, that same worker was down to just 75 square feet of personal space in which to stretch out on the job.

Nor are office drones the only casualty of this spacial downsizing trend. Senior company officials have seen their offices shrink as well, from an average of 115 square feet in 1994 to 96 square feet in 2010. Oh, the humanity!

The shrinking workplace is yet another cost-cutting measure that employers have pursued for years under the theory that smaller workstations are cheaper to maintain to especially as commercial rents spiral upward.

Least Impressive Inauguration Speeches in American History

Yahoo! News ran an interesting article today (linked on Huffington Post) featuring some of the worst inauguration speeches presidents have ever made. Let’s hope President Obama can avoid this list. I found Thomas Jefferson’s to be most interesting, mainly because of the caustic nature in which he went after the media (some things are timeless):

After a soaring first address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson was reelected and offered a sophomore effort that was an angry, monotone dud, historians say. Bitter at the "licentious" media and four years of attacks on his administration, the president was on the defensive and not as his inspirational best:

"During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science, are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness, and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation."

Can anyone else not pronounce "licentious?" I keep saying "licenshish." Anyway…

The worst likely remains William Henry Harrison’s (described in the article), whose 8,000-word address in the dead of winter may have ended up killing him. Now that’s a rough speech.

Treat Your People Right: Many Californians Looking to Bail

It’s hard not to be jealous of California. Its residents don’t have to deal with black ice in January. There are palm trees. And it’s the place where "Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper" was filmed and enjoyed six magical seasons.

But an article on Yahoo! News today, and featured on the Drudge Report, illustrates what happens when people finally become tired of inadequate government:

Mike Reilly spent his lifetime chasing the California dream. This year he’s going to look for it in Colorado.

With a house purchase near Denver in the works, the 38-year-old engineering contractor plans to move his family 1,200 miles away from his home state’s lemon groves, sunshine and beaches. For him, years of rising taxes, dead-end schools, unchecked illegal immigration and clogged traffic have robbed the Golden State of its allure.

Is there something left of the California dream?

"If you are a Hollywood actor," Reilly says, "but not for us."

Since the days of the Gold Rush, California has represented the Promised Land, an image celebrated in the songs of the Beach Boys and embodied by Silicon Valley’s instant millionaires and the young men and women who achieve stardom in Hollywood.

But for many California families last year, tomorrow started somewhere else.

The number of people leaving California for another state outstripped the number moving in from another state during the year ending on July 1, 2008. California lost a net total of 144,000 people during that period — more than any other state, according to census estimates. That is about equal to the population of Syracuse, N.Y.

The state with the next-highest net loss through migration between states was New York, which lost just over 126,000 residents.

You Might as Well Laugh Rather Than Cry

There’s not much good that comes out of a financial situation like the one our country (and the world) is experiencing. The slight exception might be some of the jokes or satirical analyses that emerge.

Such as an e-mail from a former co-worker at 4:40 a.m. one morning (maybe he was up worrying about his retirement funds) with new definitions for some common terms. We’ll share a few here:

  • Financial planner — a guy whose phone has been disconnected
  • Cash flow — the movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet
  • Institutional investor — past year investor who’s now locked up in a nuthouse
  • Yahoo — what you yell after selling it to some poor sucker for $240 per share
  • Windows — what you jump out of when you’re the sucker who bought Yahoo at $240 per share
  • P/E ratio — the percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing

Or there’s the fact that if you spent $1,000 one year ago on the following stocks, the values today would be: less than $5 for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac; $6.60 for Lehman Brothers or a whopping $42 for AIG.

In comparison, if you purchased $1,000 worth of beer, drank it and turned in all the cans for recycling, you would have $214. The drink heavily and recycle plan is also known as 401-Keg.

Remember, things will get better.